Food is a big part of travel. For some people, it’s the most exciting part.
Unfortunately, food is the part of life in which I am least adventurous. I wish I was open to try anything once, but if somethings looks weird (seafood), if it is made from weird parts of the animal (boiled heads of sheep) or if it’s an animal that I never associated with eating (guinea pigs), I won’t even try it. I don’t think anyone is following my blog for its food section.
But there were two food shows on TV that I enjoyed watching: No Reservations and Parts Unknown, both with Anthony Bourdain.
From a food perspective, I liked his focus on simple dishes and on street food.
Because I don’t want to spend too much money and time on food, I often just sit by the side of the road and order a plate of whatever is steaming in a huge pot. Thus, I discovered falafel in Israel, arancini in Sicily and trancapechos in Bolivia. Each of them a better dish than what you get in fancy restaurants.
But what I really liked about Anthony Bourdain’s shows is that they went beyond the food and were actually far more serious than most other travel shows. He never annoyed viewers with the 100th show about the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre, but he went into the side streets, meeting up with people and always hoped that he would be invited to their home.
Yet, he managed to address serious issues, too, bringing them to an audience that might initially only have been interested in food. Like my blog, in a way, that strives to be far more than a travel blog.
Anthony Bourdain tried with all his might to teach people that the world is, first of all, not dangerous, but interesting, including the countries that often have a dangerous ring to them. I hope that message won’t be lost with the loss of Anthony Bourdain.
Because everybody seems to assume that his death was a suicide (or was it Russia, once again?), I should add some thoughts on that.
I am surprised by the number of people expressing their surprise. “He always seemed so full of life.” Actually, I always saw someone more thoughtful and somber. But even if someone was always outwardly happy and energetic, what do people expect? Do you think anyone who is fed up with life, or maybe just bored by it, has to sit in a corner, crying?
Another reaction that pisses me off is the jump to a “mental health issue”, often insinuating that he should have sought “help” and if he had done so, he would still be alive. It’s nobody’s bloody business if someone else wants to be alive or not. It’s their decision and their decision alone. The reason may not necessarily be a troubling psychological issue. The decision to end one’s life at a time and in a manner of one’s own choosing can be perfectly rational. I actually have a lot of respect for people who make that ultimate decision.
As always, people are looking for signs. “How could we have spotted it?”, apparently believing there is one tell-tale sign for someone harboring thoughts of suicide. There isn’t, and until people understand that not everyone thinks like them, they won’t ever be ready to spot those signs. If it’s possible at all. Because where someone sees a fulfilled life, someone else doesn’t. Where someone sees a point in living, someone else is bored. Where someone is afraid of death, someone else knows that suicide is the one decision you will never regret.
And don’t ever be distracted by someone’s “adventurous attitude” to life. After all, seeking out adventures (and eating crazy food) is a way of gambling with death every day and every dish. Sometimes, I have the feeling as if suicide by adventure is the only socially accepted form of suicide.
(This article was also published on Medium.)